Article Image

Today My Clinical Evaluation Score Was 3/5, and That's OK

Op-Med is a collection of original articles contributed by Doximity members.

In the journey through medical school, the transition from classrooms to clinical clerkships marks a significant shift. It is a phase where the theoretical knowledge gained is put to the test in real-life patient care scenarios. As I embarked on my first clinical clerkship, I was determined to give it my all – from pre-rounding on patients to meticulously documenting their history and physicals, and ensuring families understood their loved one's condition.

However, despite my efforts, when I opened my first clinical evaluation I was met with a score of 3/5, accompanied by the feedback that I "could be more involved in patient care." Initially, I felt a pang of disappointment and confusion. Hadn't I been diligent in my duties? Hadn't I shown dedication to patient well-being? But then, amid my introspection, a realization dawned on me – the essence of our experiences in clinical clerkships isn't confined to a single evaluation or interaction.

On some days, I excelled – going above and beyond, embodying the epitome of a future physician. On those days, perhaps I deserved a 5/5. Yet, on other days, I admit, I merely met the minimum requirements. I showed up on time, presented my cases, and did what was necessary to earn that passing grade. And you know what? That's OK too.

In the realm of medical education, we are not just learning to diagnose illnesses or prescribe treatments; we are learning to balance the intricate demands of our personal lives with the responsibilities of caring for others. We are learning that it is OK to have moments where we are not at our best, where we are simply striving to keep our heads above water. We are learning the art of self-compassion – understanding that our worth as future physicians is not contingent upon a single evaluation, but rather, it is a culmination of our dedication, resilience, and growth throughout this journey.

Receiving a less-than-perfect evaluation can sting, no doubt. But let's not allow it to define us. Let's use it as a catalyst for growth – an opportunity to reflect on our strengths and weaknesses, to identify areas for improvement, and to emerge from the experience even stronger than before.

In my journey through clinical clerkships, I have learned to rate myself on a day-to-day basis, understanding that it is not about perfection but about progress. This perspective has allowed me to approach each day with a sense of grace and acceptance. I am not always at my best, but I am always striving to improve, to be kinder, and to be more attentive to the needs of my patients and colleagues.

As I look ahead to the rest of my clinical rotations, I carry with me the knowledge that every day is an opportunity to grow. Whether I rate myself as a 3/5 or a 5/5, I know that I am on the right path. Clinical clerkships are a journey, not a destination, and every experience contributes to the person and physician I am becoming.

So, when I tell you that today I was a 3/5, I say it with pride and acceptance. I know that it is OK because I am learning, evolving, and pushing through the challenges that this journey presents. Ultimately, this is not just about becoming a doctor; it's about becoming a better person — someone who can face adversity with resilience, who can empathize with patients, and who can find strength in the face of uncertainty. 

In the end, regardless of our score, let's take solace in the fact that every step we take, every patient we encounter, and every lesson we learn brings us one step closer to fulfilling our calling as physicians. Embrace the diversity of your experiences. Embrace the highs and the lows, the moments of triumph and the moments of uncertainty. Remember that it's OK to be a 3/5 sometimes, just as it's OK to strive for a perfect score. What matters most is that we're learning, growing, and ultimately, becoming the compassionate healers we aspire to be. And that, my friends, is more than OK – it's extraordinary.

How would you rate yourself today? Share in the comments.

Kayla Steinberger is a current MD/PhD candidate in her fourth year of medical school at West Virginia University. She completed her PhD in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis. 

Illustration by Jennifer Bogartz

All opinions published on Op-Med are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of Doximity or its editors. Op-Med is a safe space for free expression and diverse perspectives. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email

More from Op-Med